It’s not every day that we here at TBB review something that’s not found on the LEGO store shelves. But with the Bricklink Designer Program about to launch pre-orders for Series 1 in a few days, we were offered the opportunity by Bricklink to review one of the sets in advance: the Snack Shack designed by Stefan Cornelissen (Distracted Bldr). In addition to the advance copy of the set, we were also able to sit down with Stefan over video chat to talk about his inspiration, specific design choices, and intended implementation of his model. But what did we think of the limited edition set? How does this product differ from something in the LEGO Ideas line? And what did Stefan have to share with us? You’ll have to read on to find out! BDP Series 1 – Snack Shack will be available for pre-order from Bricklink starting Feburary 7th (with delivery of the model approximately 6 months after pre-order) and retails for $49.99 USD.
Bricklink sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
Normally, we would kick off the review with with talk about the box and its contents. But as this set is still a ways away from production thanks to the make-to-order nature of this program, things like packaging are not quite ready yet. Instead, we’ll dive right into the build, beginning by assembling the terrain this camper-turned-kitchen rests upon. It’s a slew of earth tones, highlighted with olive green flora and the start of a tree amid black gratings and some upright logs in varied shades of brown. Don’t miss the Easter egg of a nickel dropped below the dining platform – something Stefan was excited to include in the model. It’s the type of nod that is quite reminiscent of those in Modular Buildings LEGO sets.
The next natural cut in the build occurred after adding the floor of the trailer and planked dining area out front. More olive green vegetation is added, along with a garbage can (a little too close to the front door for comfort), and a massive LEGO rat. All of this combined with the disheveled nature of the slatted platform, and I’ve begun to question my choice in dining options. But after talking with Stefan, this is all intentional! The Snack Shack is made to be one of those dives that looks run-down and barely capable of passing a health inspection, yet it serves the most glorious food on this Earth. I’m sure we all know one of these places. For me, it’s a bar down the road from work that serves the best cheeseburgers in the area. Around the back of the build, you can see some clips that will come in handy later, as well as places for the soon-to-be-built kitchen appliances.
And speaking of appliances, the next chunk of instructions yields a refrigerator, sink, milkshake machine, panini press, and of course the deep fryer. The fridge is a wonderful, compact design, well-suited to the cramped confines of this camper kitchen. And that milkshake maker is a glorious agglomeration of parts, all built around a minifigure megaphone. Inclusion of the screwdriver yields the rest of the pieces in the LEGO tool pack, none of which are put to use in this build. It makes for quite the happy bonus!
All of these appliances slot properly into the kitchen, leaving just enough room for a minifigure to maneuver. One wall of the build has gone up, as has a solitary brick with Studs Not On Top. Atop this SNOT piece are the condiments of soy sauce and honey, ready for use on the potables coming out of the fryer.
And oh, what a fryer it is! If the hearth is the heart of the home, then certainly that double-basket crucible of liquid deliciousness is the heart of the divey food truck. It’s from this single kitchen appliance that this entire build sprung forth from Stefan’s mind. And while it deviates slightly from the original design (lacking access to the printed soccer goal panels from various LEGO stadium sets), it’s still a compact marvel worthy of it’s own picture. Here’s a shot from above so you can see how the yellow-orange parts replicate the used oil about to fry that chicken.
Proceeding on with the build, the next chunk of instructions adds a second side wall and the front façade. And the addition of the anterior panel gives me an excellent opportunity to talk about how this set is different from something in the LEGO Ideas line. Much of the camper’s assembly from here on out involves techniques that are for experienced LEGO builders only. While there are no complex or illegal techniques at play here, attaching the walls, roof, and door requires an understanding of where to apply pressure and how LEGO natively fits together when dealing with SNOT. It’s the kind of thing that’s hard to explain (and even harder to show in pictures), but I can say that from this step onward, it felt far more like I was assembling one of my own creations and not a LEGO set. And I found it to be an absolutely positive experience!
I hit my next stopping point after assembling and attaching the roof. It’s a pretty standard design, rounding out the top of the camper. Normally, the inclusion of stickers in a premium set would be a bad thing (and I’d say that a pre-order with 6 month lead time constitutes the moniker of “premium”). But as these are custom designs specifically for this set, and given the nature of the Bricklink Designer Program when compared to official LEGO sets, it doesn’t bother me here. There are three in total for this set, the first of which showcasing “Snack Shack” on a dark red background.
The last wall of the build goes up, clipping into place on the back of the model. In a genius design feature, the back of the Snack Shack opens up and the counter can be removed, allowing for playability typical of LEGO City sets. The side walls are also properly rounded off to match the roof, and an exhaust vent is added above the deep fryer. Some more olive green vegetation finds a home on the back wall, furthering the drab run-down look.
In the final steps, several details on the Snack Shack come into focus. A brilliantly-built front door is added along with a palm tree, awning, table, grease trap, and a sole patron. While it may look like squiggles, the menu sticker actually reads “fried chicken sandwiches and milkshakes.” Building on the inclusion of a palm and seagull, Stefan’s intended setting for his creation is the beach. However, he was intentionally generic enough as to allow the build to slot into any LEGO city. The creation was inspired by an experience he had in Florida, USA, sampling the shadier cuisines on offer. And we should talk about the technique used for that awning, too. Having the bars sit in the gaps on the underside of those inverted slopes is a truly inspired move!
As previously stated, the back is designed to open, and the back counters come out to allow for playability. You can see that on display below.
The minifigures and food
The Snack Shack comes with two minifigures: the chicken-slinging cook and a patron. Stefan said that the customer is actually modeled after his wife. We also get a rat of Harry Potter origins and the seagull that debuted in CMF Series 10. The minifigure torsos have front and back printing, though the faces are only one-sided.
I also thought it would be a good idea to have a look at all the items on order at the camper. Here we can see the aforementioned chicken sandwich and milkshake, but we also have mustard, hot sauce, salt, and napkin dispenser. Within the kitchen (not pictured), we have a chicken leg, honey, soy sauce, and carton of milk.
The final build
When all is said and done, the set stands on a footprint of 20×22 studs. The camper is removable from its base without disturbing the scene, making it easy to transplant to the park, beach, or sidewalk of your choice in your own LEGO city. Playability is strong, with loads of minifigure accessories, two animals, and the ability to open the kitchen from behind. And given the complex story of a divey restaurant that Stefan is trying to tell, there’s loads of narrative to explore!
Conclusions and recommendations
If you couldn’t tell from above, I had a blast assembling this treasure! It’s a quick build, but exists at a wonderful price point for what you’re getting along with the premium nature of the opportunity. I cannot recommend it more! My only concern heading into the pre-order phase of BDP Series 1 is this model’s size when compared to the others amid the nature of this opportunity. It’s a third the price and a quarter the part count of the next-largest set in the series.
I know the temptation for many will be to take advantage of the limited nature of this Bricklink offer and go for the larger Mountain Fortress or Parisian Street, as getting a hold of any of these limited edition sets will likely be a challenge. And the pay-off on resale will be greater for those models as a result of their maximized initial value. But I implore you to please avoid treating the Bricklink Designer Program exclusively as an opportunity to invest in the future sale of an unopened set, and instead enjoy the love letter to the hobby that these designers (including Stefan) wrote for you all. Snack Shack is a brilliant creation, worthy of inclusion in anyone’s basement city layout, and I hope it makes the cut if you have the opportunity to acquire one of the sets in this series.
Bricklink Designer Program Series 1 Snack Shack will be available for pre-order from Bricklink starting Feburary 7th and retails for $49.99 USD. Models purchased through this program are expected to be delivered approximately 6 months after order.
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